Heading into training camp the Ravens have a logjam at both the tight end and running back positions. How both will shake out is one of the most intriguing questions heading into the season.
The Ravens invested early draft picks in both Crockett Gillmore and Maxx Williams in recent years. They added Ben Watson this offseason and Dennis Pitta has stood out among the group in the early days of camp as he attempts his comeback. Add Darren Waller and Nick Boyle into the mix, albeit with suspensions heading into the regular season, and saying it’s a crowded group would be an understatement.
The stable of running backs boasts similar depth. Justin Forsett is the lead back heading into camp but he’ll face some stiff competition for snaps. Buck Allen showed promise last season and Kenneth Dixon possesses a skill set that is dynamic and varied. Terrance West has been impressive in early workouts and Lorenzo Taliaferro and Trent Richardson will compete as well.
But as deep as both groups are, the herd can thin out quickly.
Despite the touted depth in the offensive backfield only Forsett, Allen and West have taken significant snaps thus far. Richardson is still working his way back from a hamstring issue, Taliaferro started training camp on the PUP list, and Dixon went down on day one with what is considered to be a minor knee issue. Crockett Gillmore left on day two as well with after dealing with a hamstring injury of his own.
Suddenly the depth in both is slowing starting to erode after just three days of camp.
None of the injuries are considered serious, but it is a reminder of how positional groups can quickly become not so deep.
In 2014 the Ravens defensive line looked like the deepest positional group heading into camp. But by the time the season opener rolled around the unit had been hit hard with injuries. Both Brent Urban and Kapron Lewis-Moore were knocked out for the year with season ending injuries in camp. A group that was considered the deepest on the team quickly became one of the thinnest.
Injuries last season came early and often and training camp was no exception. Matt Elam’s season ended in late July after a tearing his biceps, Breshad Perriman’s injury has been well documented and the Ravens dealt with a handful of other ailments before they played any games that mattered. It was a trend that would continue throughout the entire season.
John Harbaugh and his staff will have some difficult decisions to make as they trim the roster down to 53. Talented players will be let go. But to a degree the herd will likely thin itself. As we’ve seen so often injuries are part of life in the National Football League. In some ways it’s the league’s natural pruning process.
We only need to look to the first three days of training camp for proof.